Picture this. I’m sitting on the subway, clutching a brown paper bag. I sniffle, tears well up in my eyes, and I am reading one of the thickest novels I have read in a while. I look up occasionally to note that a few observant passengers are looking at me with concern. Brown paper bag+ tears streaming down my face+ thick novel…I can only imagine what was running through their minds.
Well little did they know, in that paper bag was the catalyst of my emotional state, that being euphoria. I had been united with a treat that I had been obsessively researching online for the last month and a bit…Mexican candy.
I had encountered Mexican candy once during a trip to the States and fell in love instantaneously. Being a lover of all things containing tamarind, I hit the jackpot when I found mounds of tamarind balls flavoured with course sugar, salt, and Mexican chilli at a candy store in Universal Studios. I was recently reminded of this tangy, tart, spicy, and sweet candy as I was snacking on Taiwanese tamarind balls. With a little research I discovered that there were many online vendors that sold the product.l However, after countless inquiries, receiving no e-mails back, and cringing at the $20 USD cost of shipping $5 worth of candy, I decided that may be there were other more accessible options.
A friend had noted that a small portion of Kensington Market in Toronto was dedicated to Latin American groceries and that I might have some luck there. I was in search of Pulparindo, a tamarind bar flavoured with chilli and salt whose texture can be likened to a fruit rollup, and acidulated lollipops which came in flavours like mango and watermelon and were covered in a coating of chilli and salt.
Perola was the first and only grocery store that I stepped into, simply because I found all I was looking for there. The owner was extremely helpful, and delighted in my enthusiasm and the beads of sweat that began to form on my forehead as a result of the searing heat of the candy.
I must note that Mexican candy is an acquired taste, and not for the faint of heart. The combination of salty, spicy, and sweet may not be instantly recognizable, but it’s one that can come to be appreciated after a few tastes. Keep an open mind, and you might find yourself requesting membership into my Mexican Candy Lovers club
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